Butcher Block Kitchen Table & Chairs - Elegant and Practical Home Addition
The heart of every home is the kitchen. This space for cooking and gathering with family requires a sturdy, stylish dining set to withstand daily use. Butcher block tables bring warmth and character to kitchens with their beautiful hardwood patterns.Complemented by the right chairs, a butcher block dining set creates an inviting space for meals and memories.
Butcher block offers the rugged durability of solid wood along with rustic appeal. Made by edge-gluing hardwood strips, butcher block develops a rich patina over time. The thick laminated slab withstands years of scratches, stains, and wear from lively households. Butcher block’s practicality as a dining table comes from its origins as a sturdy surface for chopping meat in butcher shops.
What is Butcher Block?
Butcher block has traditionally served as a cutting surface for butchers and meat processing. The edge grain construction makes it incredibly durable and resistant to damage. By gluing many shorter pieces of hardwood together edge-to-edge, the wood grain runs perpendicular to the table surface. This makes it much stronger than joining long boards end-to-end.
Common woods for butcher block are maple, oak, walnut and cherry. Each has attractive grain patterns and tones ranging from light to dark. Hard maple offers durability at an affordable price point. White oak has a rustic charm. Black walnut stains up beautifully. Cherry’s reddish hues add warmth.
Benefits and Drawbacks
Using butcher block as a kitchen table offers many benefits thanks to its solid wood construction. The thickness provides a smooth, sturdy surface that withstands years of dining and gatherings. Spills, stains, and scratches that would ruin other tabletops blend into the patina of butcher block. The wood develops character over time.
However, butcher block does require some maintenance. Unfinished surfaces need periodic oiling to protect and hydrate the wood. Finished tops also need occasional reapplication. And harsh cleaners may damage the wood over time. But with proper care, a butcher block table can serve your family for generations.
Styles of Butcher Block Tables
Butcher block dining tables come in a diverse array of shapes, sizes and bases to fit any kitchen decor. Simple oil finishes allow the wood’s natural grain to shine through. Or opt for vivid stains to make the table a bold focal point.
The most common butcher block table shape is rectangular with straight edges for a classic farmhouse look. Round tables save space in smaller kitchens. For a unique touch, choose a square, oval or curved rectangular silhouette. Tables with integrated bench seating are great for large families and accommodate extra guests.
Butcher block tables feature a range of leg designs. The most popular are straight tapered legs in either square or gently curved shapes. Other options include square cut legs, gently splayed legs, and ornate turned designs. Pedestal bases provide uninterrupted seating space for round and oval tables.
Standard butcher block kitchen tables range from 36-42 inches wide and 48-60 inches long. Bench and banquet-sized tables expand to 96 or even 108 inches long to host large gatherings. Many tables include extension leaves stored inside the aprons. These allow the table to expand from 6 to 10 feet long or more.
Butcher block tables may be unfinished, oil-finished or stained. Unfinished tops develop a rustic patina but require regular oiling. Tung oil provides protection while enhancing the wood grain. Custom stains range from black walnut to sun-bleached driftwood gray. For easy maintenance, opt for polyurethane or conversion varnish.
Choosing the Right Size Butcher Block Table
When selecting a kitchen table, take measurements to find the right size for your space. Leave ample clearance around chairs when tucked in and pulled out from the table. Remember to account for traffic flow and walkways around the dining area.
For versatility, consider a table with extension leaves. These allow you to expand the table for holidays and large gatherings when needed. Look for self-storing leaf designs that easily tuck away inside the table apron when not in use. Measure to ensure your table can extend fully when expanded.
First determine the day-to-day seating size needed. For a family of four, a 36-42 inch wide table seats diners comfortably. Bump up to 48-60 inches wide for a table to seat 6 diners regularly. Extra wide bench tables or those with extension leaves can squeeze in 8 or more chairs.
Selecting a Complementary Finish
One of the wonderful aspects of butcher block is the range of finish options. From natural oil treatments to vivid paint colors, select a finish that fits your overall kitchen decor and design aesthetic.
Unfinished butcher block develops a beautiful patina but requires upkeep. Regular applications of food-grade oil like walnut or lemon oil hydrate and protect the raw wood. It absorbs spills easily so vigilance is a must.
Wood Stain Colors
Stained finishes allow you to customize the table with tone that fits your space. For a light and airy look, use a natural or white oak color. Dark walnut evokes sophistication. Black stains create dramatic contrast. Match existing wood tones or make the table a bold accent.
Vibrant paint is ideal for protecting soft woods like pine or fir while adding pops of color. Standard latex paint works on butcher block but conversion varnish or marine grade epoxy paints hold up best. Choose a cheery hue like teal blue or sunny yellow.
Oil penetrates deep into the wood pores to nourish and protect the tabletop. Regular reapplication provides a smooth silky feel. Tung oil leaves a slight gloss while sealing the surface. Formulated blends like Howard Butcher Block Conditioner infuse mineral oil for durability.
Decorating with Butcher Block Tables
A butcher block dining table serves as the anchor and inspiration for your kitchen or dining room decor. Play up the rustic vibe with farmhouse style touches. Or soften the wood with woven and linen textures. Here are decor ideas for popular design aesthetics.
Rustic Farmhouse Style
Embrace the organic charm of butcher block in farmhouse spaces. Look for wood chairs with woven rawhide seats. Iron chandeliers and overhead pot racks complement the table’s ruggedness. Sage green walls or brick red accents play up the vintage style. Add natural textures with stoneware dishes and wicker baskets.
Modern and Scandinavian
Tapered wood chairs with scooped seats provide midcentury flair alongside a butcher block table. Contrast the warm wood with cool hues like powder blue walls or navy dining chairs. Introduce airy textures with woven pendant lights, jute rugs and linen curtains. A bright pop of chartreuse or magenta adds a fun modern twist.
Traditional and Transitional
For traditional dining rooms, match classic wood chairs with spoon-carved backs to the butcher block table. Pick sleek leather or velvet upholstered seats for contrast. An ornate crystal chandelier provides elegance above the rustic table. Earth tones and neutrals allow the wood grain to shine. For a transitional look, pair the table with a sleek marble credenza or brass sconces.
A butcher block dining table brings a comfortable, casual warmth to kitchens and dining rooms. The thick solid wood tops withstand years of lively use while only improving with age. Extendable tables work in kitchens both large and small. With the right finish and chairs, butcher block adapts to any personal decorating style. Your search for a table tailored to your unique home ends with the beauty and durability of butcher block.